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Friday, March 15 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study we looked at the reason why God gave gifts to the church (for growth onto unity) and were admonished how we should live as Christians (forsaking our old lifestyles and putting on the new man daily). Today’s study covers verses 1-14 of Ephesians chapter 5 - a continuation of Paul’s instruction about Christian living.
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
The Message version so beautifully puts it this way and takes the need away for any further interpretation:
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG) Emphasis mine
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Once again see the way the Message version puts it.
“Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. 4 Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
Here, Paul was talking about the habits of life they should not practice -- impurity, greed, course speech -- and harshly reminding them those whose lives are characterized by such things do not have an inheritance from God but instead an expectation of God’s wrath. These sins must be dreaded and detested. A greedy/covetous man makes a god of his money; places his hope, confidence, and delight, in worldly goods, which should be in God only.
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.” Emphasis mine
Those who allow themselves, either in the lusts of the flesh or the love of the world, belong not to the kingdom of grace, nor shall they come to the kingdom of glory. When the vilest transgressors repent and believe the gospel, they become children of obedience, from whom God's wrath is turned away. Dare we make light of that which brings down the wrath of God?
These works of darkness are unfruitful, whatever profit they may boast; for they end in the destruction of the impenitent sinner. There are many ways of abetting, or taking part in the sins of others; by commendation, counsel, consent, or concealment. And if we share with others in their sins, we must expect to share in their plagues. If we do not reprove the sins of others, we have fellowship with them. A good man will be ashamed to speak of what many wicked men are not ashamed to do.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”” Emphasis mine
Paul starts off in verse 8 admonishing us to walk as children of light, as having knowledge and holiness and then goes further in verse 9 and talks about:
(a) The Fruit of the Light: Paul lists several aspects of this way of living goodness, righteousness and truth, and he describes them as the “fruit of the light.” Paul imagines the reality of being light issuing forth in the fruit of goodness (a quality he connects to the Christian life in several of his letters: Romans 15:14; Galatians 5:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:11), righteousness (one of his favourite and most important theological terms), and truth (frequently associated with the life of and in God).
Because these qualities are not “tangible” Paul follows this list with the affirmation that the person who is light will need to test out what is pleasing to the Lord. In other words, “What is goodness, righteousness, and truth?” are not simple questions. They must be discerned with the aids God has provided: The Spirit, the Scriptures, and the Church.
(b) The Fruitless Deeds of Darkness: Darkness produces unfruitful works. It is not simply the case that darkness produces no fruit, but even more dangerously it produces works that are the opposite. In this instance, there exists not simply the absence of the good but the presence of the corrupt. Paul instructs the Ephesians not to fellowship with such things.
In addition to avoiding unfruitfulness, Paul asks his readers to reprove -- to speak against -- such works. His is not an instruction for passive avoidance, but for active critique. This action might be one way in which Paul envisions the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and especially truth becoming ripe. To speak against the fruitless deeds of darkness is, itself, a demonstration of healthy fruit.
The group Paul has categorized as darkness do things in secret which are so shameful to talk about. When the people who are light reprove these things they move out from under the cover of secrecy and darkness into the state of revelation. Back-room deals that result in oppression, any kind of exploitation, or deeds that result in shame come to light when they are reproved.
(c) Christ Will Shine on You: In a fascinating turn, then, Paul declares that everything which has been revealed (everything which has been named in reproof) is now light. The transformation of verse 8 is repeated. Darkness is now light. If the people of the light expose the deeds of those in darkness, that reproof can result in those people’s transformation. Paul’s citation of a poem makes it more likely that salvation is in fact in view.
Because the light of Christ has come, the Ephesians have been radically transformed, and they have a call, a responsibility, to usher in the shining of his light upon others so they too can be transformed. Moving into the light brings initial pain to the eyes, and the cultivation of fruit takes effort, but the transition is worth it. For who would not relinquish the secret and shameful darkness of death in order to walk in the light as children of the God of light?
Today’s study of Ephesians 5:1-14 has defined the situation of a believer who is not walking in fellowship with God, who is not producing fruit, who is not producing work for the Lord and is even involved in a lifestyle of sin. The passage exhorts believers to imitate God in their daily walk. In so doing it indicates the undesirability and the consequences of a disobedient life. Verses 7-12 indicate the shamefulness of going back to the disgusting lifestyle of the world after Christ had sacrificed Himself so that the believer would not have to be a slave to sin and suffer eternal condemnation. The passage says to act instead like the person that a believer is: a child of light possessing eternal life, (v. 8), rather than to act like the world and suffer the consequence of losing one's inheritance in the kingdom of Christ for being immoral, (v. 5).
Tuesday, March 12 2019
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
INTRODUCTION: In the last study, we looked at the sheer extravagance of God’s marvellous grace for our salvation. We looked at how God generously dispensed spiritual gifts to the church and how these should stir our hearts to serve Him out of gratitude and not out of a desire to earn merit. This week we look further into the various different gifts and examine how we can truly live a Christ-like life.
“And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles……………]”. (AMP)
In verse 8 it was mentioned that God gave gifts to men. Here we see the different gifts distributed to being explained and illustrated at greater lengths than what he had was previously said, that out of this variety arises unity in the church. When men are called by God, gifts are a necessity to function within offices of such calling. God does not confer on men the mere name of Apostles or Pastors, but also endows them with gifts, without which they cannot properly discharge their offices.
And he gave: The apostles did not appoint themselves, but were chosen by Christ; and, at the present day, true pastors do not rashly thrust themselves forward by their own judgment, but are raised up by the Lord.
Pastors and Teachers: Note here it didn’t say “and some pastors and some teachers” rather it says “Pastors AND teachers” signifying that for the role of a pastor to be complete he/she is also given the gift of a teacher. Paul speaks broadly of pastors and teachers as belonging to one and the same class, and that the name teacher does, apply to all pastors. We have however seen instances where people are gifted in teaching without being pastors but all pastors must be teachers!
That we may be no more children: “Children” here refers to those who still hesitate in the way of the Lord. Those who have not yet determined their purpose for living, but move sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another, always doubtful, always wavering. We shouldn’t be children to avoid us been Tossed to and fro, and carried about.
“But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth]” (AMP)
Speaking the truth: To emphasise the fact that we should not be children, here he now instructs us to grow up in the truth. When God’s word is true to us, all the devices and attacks of Satan will not be capable of drawing us from our course;
Each member has its own proper share, — according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.
By love the church is edified, — to the edifying of itself in love. That anyone who desires his own separate growth is mistaken. If a leg or arm should grow to an extraordinary size, or the mouth be more fully enlarged, wouldn’t the excessive enlargement of those parts make the whole body deformed? In the same way we as members of Christ are. Let no man be anything for himself, but let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other.
“So this I say, and solemnly affirm together with the Lord [as in His presence], that you must ………]” (AMP)
Here Paul deliberately fully painted a picture of how unbelievers live. Pointing out that when we become Christians, there has to be a distinct break from the past. People should be able to see a clear difference in your life.
Vs 17: In the futility (meaninglessness) of their mind – Starts by pointing out the root of unbelievers’ problem, the mind! Everything starts from the mind (good/bad). Vs 18 then explains why their minds are so empty (Due to been darkened in their understanding (ignorant of God)) – Sometimes because their hearts are hardened due to sin. And then Vs 19 Paul shows where living this type of lifestyle leads.
“But you did not learn Christ in this way! 21 If in fact you have [really] heard Him…………………….” AMP
Truth is the idea of change sounds good and we are always up for it until it comes down to doing what’s required to get the change and then we decide . . . “you know what? This is hard am ok as I am…….”
Paul describes the changed life:
Note how the verse did not say you did not learn about Christ but rather you did not learn Christ! To learn Christ is to know God personally while to learn about Christ is just been aware of him. It’s emphasised here as it is possible to know about someone yet not know the person. Think about it, we all know about the president correct? But how many have actually met him or spent any time with him personally? Our changed life begins first from knowing Christ.
Paul is saying “I know that you have heard him” – These doesn’t necessarily mean each individual one of them have heard Christ directly but rather than when Paul and others preached the gospel, the people had heard it as God speaking to them. Our change life begins when God opens our ears to hear him through the gospel and not only hear but respond with obedient.
Before we didn’t know. Our understand was dark, easily moved but now we are in Him for life because of his mercy and kindness towards us. He teaches us, guides u. To be taught in him is a lifelong process! It never ends.
Salvation truth can only be gotten through Jesus. Is in him we learn the truth about who we really are, we learn our purpose on why we are here, how to love (both God and each other even how to love ourselves), we learn sin and righteousness, about heaven and hell. All the truth we need to know is in Jesus.
The old man here refers to all we were before we were saved. The things we used to do, say, the way we used to act and react and the moment we get saved we should have put off the old cloths, the old manners and put on the new life in Christ. When we got saved we got loose from bondage to sin. God freed us. Of course our old life will still fight to live but we do not have to answer to it.
Renewal is an ongoing process that God performs in us once we continue to walk with him. Our renewal happens from the spirit of our minds. This is done once we obey God, he saturates our minds with his word of truth. Therefore, the means of renewal is His word! And we are responsible for the use of it.
This has been said earlier in that we continue to put on the new man daily. In other words, we live by applying the truth of a new man no matter what we face. Speak the truth when tempted to lie.
“Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths…………………” AMP
We need to be done with falsehood, have nothing to do with it even part-time to resort to emergency solution NO! We are commanded here to put away lies. We are commanded to speak the truth to one another (living a life of integrity). We are also required to have a change in attitude (i.e.: move away from taking advantage of people/ cheating others because you believe you can easily get away with it).
Called to live a life of honesty for the welfare of Christ’s body (the church). Remember we are all members of one spiritual body. Think about it, why isn’t it easy for one to do harm to themselves because before the hand will commit to harming the body it considers the pain same we must be. We must be faithful, honest, and dependable towards one another.
“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth….” AMP
Here Paul talks about “grieving (to pain, to harm, to cause sorrow) the Holy Spirit” – This is done when we allow harmful word come out our mouth or when we let bitterness and anger dwell in within us. Instead we need to be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving.
We have seen above the various types of gifts given by God Himself to His people for the edification of the church. We have also examined the process of a changed life and why we cannot live like the unbelievers. Why we must put away our old self and daily put on the new man. How we need to be spiritually matured so as not to be deceived by fake prophets. Instead we know who we are in Him with Him and allow only Him through the Holy Spirit continue to renew us daily.